Like its neophyte (in film) lead performer, Kin has potential as a young-adult entry akin to films like The Maze Runner. Unfortunately, sibling directorial team Jonathan and Josh Baker perhaps envisioned more than their genre hybrid with a limited effects budget provides. Especially, considering a cosmically twisted conclusion.
Filmed in Canada, Kin swirls a road movie from familial dysfunction and sci-fi fantasy as the filmmakers injudiciously expand from their earlier short feature, Bag Man. It struggles narratively in cobbling together different elements that scenarist Daniel Casey honestly is unable to make whole and relevant to its moniker. Given the holiday weekend of its release, avoiding triteness and indolence is impossible while being off-putting in formation and execution.
It centers on Myles Truitt’s social outcast in Eli, a 14-year-old, dwelling in a seedy part of the Motor City. Stingy, gruff, though concerned adopted dad (Dennis Quaid) doesn’t like all the time he’s rummaging for copper materials in uninhabited buildings. Pop’s adult son, Jimmy (Jack Reynor), is just out of the clink after a six-year stint and has run up a sizable debt to a sleazy, drug-dealing underworld head, Taylor (James Franco of Spring Breakers) for his protection.
Decisions become rash after a robbery goes awry with an unplanned excursion to Lake Tahoe (a favorite destination of Jimmy’s late mom) on the agenda. In Eli’s belongings is a weapon of mysterious, maybe otherworldly genesis, discovered where a homicidal encounter occurred. Something perhaps of a wish-fulfillment nature (which only he can deploy) than can help him find a certain kind of joy with his brother, though the characters just don’t thrive together convincingly in this reckless, notably fierce milieu.
Perhaps as eye candy Zoe Kravitz (Mad Max Fury Road) appears as the heart-of-gold stripper Millie along for company in Colorado before hair-raising events arise in Reno. Of course, an avenging tattooed cornrowed Taylor (Franco in mordant and briefly gratuitous form) and his goons are in pursuit of Jimmy. As well as two darkly armored bodies out to get Eli’s new hardware they figure is rightfully theirs.
Carrie Coon also turns up later in the proceedings as an inflexible government agent, but the capable cast with the exception of a glimmer of expressiveness from Truitt comes up empty. The aforementioned climactic turn isn’t really very special or genuine as the Baker brothers are hardly fabulous at making the dilemma of Eli and Jimmy resonate instead of triggering ill-tempered mayhem.